Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications

On September 7, 2005, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District issued a published decision denying a qualified medical marijuana patient any remedy for being terminated from his/her employment simply for testing positive for marijuana. In Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications, Inc., the court relied on federal law to defeat Gary Ross' state law causes of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy and employment discrimination in violation of California's Fair Employment and Housing Act. Hoping to overturn this discriminatory decision, ASA joined the lawsuit as co-counsel, and on November 30, 2005, the California Supreme Court (CSC) granted review. The opening brief before the CSC was filed on February 7, 2006. Then, on July 25, 2006, three support (amicus) briefs were filed on behalf of Ross: a medical-based brief filed by ten local, state, and national organizations, inlcuding the American Nurses Association; a legislative-based brief filed by all of the original authors of SB 420; and a disability rights brief filed by two prominent rights groups.

Unfortunately, on January 24, 2008, in a 5-2 opinion, the California Supreme Court narrowly construed the Compassionate Use Act to rule in favor of the employer and hold that medical marijuana patients cannot state civil causes of action for employment discrimination.In a strongly worded dissent, Justice Joyce Kennard criticized the majority opinion for its lack of compassion and described it as “disrespect[ing] the will of California’s voters who, when they enacted the Compassionate Use Act, surely never intended that persons who availed themselves of its provisions would thereby disqualify themselves from employment.”